Throughout the years, West Franklin Street has hosted a variety of notable events, such as the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival and Mardi Gras Parade. Many, like the Fall Festival, have a rich history in the Evansville that span more than a century. This Saturday, organizers hope another event will enjoy the same legacy in the historic district.
The Franklin Street Events Association will host Sip, Shop & Stroll on April 30, an event that allows visitors to enjoy refreshments while scoring deals at Franklin Street businesses. While Sip, Shop & Stroll lacks the tenure of the Fall Festival and other events, it has quickly cemented its place within the rich history of Franklin Street.
“The first year we did it was three years ago. It was a Friday night, and we didn’t know how many people would show up,” says Marcia Jochem, owner of Thyme in the Kitchen at 2308 W. Franklin St. “It was a huge success. We had at least a thousand people shopping the stores and going from business to business.”
After a modified, albeit successful, version in 2020, the event was held in May last year. This year’s event is a month earlier and will take place in the morning. The shift to the morning also means a change in refreshments. This year’s menu will feature breakfast items, such as doughnut holes and bagel bites, and drinks such as mimosas, Bloody Marys, and of course, coffee.
“We’ll probably do some type of breakfast bites. We sell a Bloody Mary mix, so we’ll probably do some samples of some of the drink mixes we sell,” Jochem says. “We have coffee and tea. We’ll have a variety of drink and food options.”
Opened in 2013, Thyme in the Kitchen offers kitchenware and seasonings in addition to its signature cooking classes. Guest chefs, such as 78-time World Grand Pitmaster Jim Johnson, share their tips and tricks so customers leave with a full belly and the ability to make their own kitchens the site of a delightful meal. At the end of the day, Jochem’s mission statement is simple: “We like to cook, and we like to make people happy cooking,” she says.
While Thyme in the Kitchen is in its first decade on Franklin Street, a store across the street has been a mainstay in the historic district for years. Thomas’s Shoes, owned by Tom and Janie Antes, will be participating in the Sip, Shop & Stroll event again this spring, offering deals on various footwear items.
This year’s edition of Sip, Shop & Stroll will be especially meaningful to the Anteses, as it will be their final one. After 49 years in the shoe industry and 32 years as the owner of Thomas’s Shoes, Tom and his wife are stepping aside to enjoy retired life.
“I’ve been around the block. I think I’ve waited on everybody three times now,” Antes says.
Retirement will give the couple an opportunity to check some items off their bucket list, namely visiting their children in Boston, Massachusetts, and Bellingham, Washington. But the closing of the store will leave a hole on both Franklin Street and in Evansville.
“We’re the throwback of the sit ‘em and fit ‘em store,” says Antes. “I learned this from Baynham’s Shoes a long time ago. You get the Brannock out, which is the device to measure feet, you get proper size and width, and you go back and get what they want. This is what we do. We’re not just going to ring the cash register to get a shoe out the door. We’re going to make sure that shoe is right.”
The care shown by the owners of Thomas’s Shoes is shared by all store owners on Franklin Street.
“When you walk into every store, the owner is there,” Antes says. “(In” Paul’s Menswear, the owner is there. I’m here. Go down to Tracy’s Attic; Tracy is there all the time. I feel like the customer service is right there because we care. They all do. This is why we’re all so successful.”
Coordinated events such as Sip, Shop & Stroll illustrate the tight-knit relationship the store owners of Franklin Street have.
“It’s not just our family within individual business. We’re also a Franklin Street family. We work together; we want to make sure everyone on this street is successful,” says Jochem. “The more retail businesses can work together, the better and stronger our street will be and the stronger each individual business will be.”
Paul’s Menswear is another store that shoppers can visit during Sip, Shop & Stroll. Learn more about Paul’s Menswear here: http://www.evansvilleliving.com/articles/a-lasting-legacy-0
Editor’s note: This article was written by Donovan Schultz, a sports communications major at the University of Evansville, as part of Dr. Tamara Wandel’s Integrated Communications Campaigns class.